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Strider, released in Japan as Strider Hiryū (ストライダー飛竜?) is a 1989 side-scrolling platform game released for the CP System arcade hardware by Capcom. It became one of Capcom's early hits before Street Fighter II, revered for its innovative gameplay, diverse and unique music, and multilingual voice clips during cutscenes (presented in English, Japanese, Mandarin and Russian).
Strider is set in a dystopian future in the year 2048, where a mysterious dictator known as the "Grandmaster" rules over the world. Hiryu, the youngest ever Super A Ranked member of an organization of high-tech ninja-like agents known as the "Striders", is alone tasked with the Grandmaster's assassination. Hiryu begins his mission by infiltrating the Grandmaster's capital at the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
The controls of Strider consist of an eight-way joystick and two action buttons for attacking and jumping. The player controls Hiryu himself, whose main weapon is a tonfa-like plasma sword known as "Cypher". He can perform numerous acrobatic feats depending on the joystick/button combination used. Pressing the jump button while Hiryu is standing still will cause him to do a regular vertical jump, while pressing the jump button while pushing the joystick left or right will enable him to do a cartwheel jump. Hiryu can also slide under or through certain obstacles and enemies by first crouching down and then pressing the jump button. As well as his sliding move, both jumps can also be used to destroy weaker opponents. Hiryu is able to latch onto certain platforms, and climb across walls and ceilings using a metallic hook. While running down a sloped surface, Hiryu can gain enough momentum to allow him to do a longer cartwheel jump than usual.
Numerous power-ups can be obtained from item boxes carried by certain enemies. These includes an extension to Hiryu's attack range that lasts for one hundred slashes, two types of health aids (represented by the kanji used to write Hiryu's name: 飛 and 飛竜), a max health extension (represented by the kanji 竜, the second character in Hiryu's name), an extra life, and a power-up that not only makes Hiryu invulnerable to attack but also increases his own attack abilities via shadow images of himself for 15 seconds. Hiryu can also summon robotic companions known collectively as "options" that help him fight enemies. These consist of up to two mushroom-like droids, a saber-toothed tiger and a hawk, known individually as Option A, B and C respectively.
The game has five stages: the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (called "St. Petersburg" during the arcade game's attract sequence), the Siberian Wilderness, the Aerial Battleship Balrog (געלראב), the Amazonian Jungle, and the Grandmaster's lair itself, the Third Moon. Each of the stages is divided into a number of smaller sections, each with their own time limit and checkpoint location. The player has a three-point health gauge (which can be increased to five points with the health extensions. Hiryu will lose a life when either his health gauge is fully depleted, by moving him off the screen entirely (like falling into a bottomless pit) or when the game's timer reaches zero. It's Game Over when all of Hiryu's lives are lost, but the player can be given the opportunity to continue.
The arcade version of Strider was part of a three-way project conceived in a collaboration between Capcom and Hiroshi Motomiya's manga studio Moto Kikaku, which also included the Strider Hiryu manga by Moto Kikaku's Tatsumi Wada that was published in Kodansha's Comic Computique anthology in Japan, as well as the NES version of Strider. Kouichi Yotsui, director of the coin-op Strider (who is credited as Isuke in the game), was chosen for his experience with the CP System hardware while working as a background designer on Ghouls 'n Ghosts. The three projects were developed independently of each other.
The original arcade game soundtrack was composed entirely by female video game music composer Junko Tamiya, who was not credited for her work in the arcade version but was mentioned as part of the original arcade staff in some console adaptations. Early revisions of the arcade game were missing the unique music for the Aerial Battleship and Third Moon stages. In this version the music from the first stage of the game was repeated here instead.
Strider contains many different styles of themes that change dynamically throughout the game according to the stages and the situations on screen. These range from experimental and progressive futuristic sci-fi action themes to baroque, tribal and classical music pieces. Elements from the soundtrack have also been used in other Capcom games where Hiryu has appeared. These include the Marvel vs. Capcom series as well as other Strider related games.
Upon its release, EGM was impressed with the Genesis port, devoting portions of three separate issues to it awarding it with best video game of the year in 1990 and winner of their best graphics category. Brett Alan Weiss of All Media Guide called the Genesis port "a nice effort and a lot of fun for someone who likes to travel through a dark future Earth killing everything in his/her path with a giant sword", while also noting that "it does get a little repetitious [sic] using the same weapon over and over. Even so, this is an exciting game."
Strider is fondly remembered, having spawned numerous fansites and retrospectives. In 1992, Mega placed the game at 31st spot in their list of top Mega Drive games of all time. In 2010, UGO.com included Strider in their list of the 25 video games that need sequels. Also in 2010, Game Informer included it on the list of ten gaming franchises that should be revived, adding: "Imagine the sidescrolling insanity of the Metal Slug series, but replace grizzled soldiers with a badass ninja. That's Strider, and it's awesome." That same year, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. ScrewAttack named it as the best Genesis game ever made.